Search

Walk the Path Overgrown

Ann Oswald Laird: My mission is to empower and provide resources for every sentient being and to access the universal energy that flows in vast abundance. www.AkashicAscension.com

Category

Walking the Path

Cycle of Consciousness

IMG_0026I AM abandoning the states of illusion and allowing the Truth of WHO I AM to be my navigator as I transcend the density of what it means to be born on planet Earth. I AM allowing my eyes to see and my ears to hear the joy and the suffering of All about this planet. I Am aligned with the greater good of ALL mankind not just who and what I am in relation to such as my gender, my heritage, my customs, my country…… I AM just as you are. I AM Consciousness.

I AM born of a consciousness that believes in the power of unity, believes in the will of All over the will of self preservation, supports the spiritual journey of self discovery and further recognizes that in that discovery the self is but a seed upon the sandy beach. I AM born of a consciousness that is forever calling me back to my true nature, my Divinity, Oneness.

I AM living upon a planet born of the same consciousness. A consciousness of sustainability for herself and All her inhabitants. A sustainability that depends on the ability to coexist.  A coexist between her waterways, her forests, deserts, farmlands, cities, atmosphere and her inhabitants is detrimental to survival. To thrive as a living consciousness planet Earth seeks sustainability for without it transcends the density and rebirths as always.

I AM co-existing with humans born of the same consciousness. A consciousness that calls us to unity, to be collective, to sustain and to go within. A consciousness that unites us and sustains our ability to co-create, to transcend and to ascend collectively beyond the limitations of a 3rd and 4th dimensional experiences.

The consciousness of Mother Earth is our consciousness and the consciousness of another is our consciousness. Together, Earth and humanity are called to collectively transcend density and duality to allow the awakening of a Oneness Consciousness. In doing so, the shift is made and no longer will it be acceptable to take the life of another for in doing so you take the life of self.

The freedom of self is in the freedom of the collective, not the selective. History paints a picture that is evident to see. The demise of the planet is in direct relations with the demise of human tyranny. Remember however that the consciousness of Earth sustains as does the consciousness of humans. History proves this time and time again. The cycle continues, man is beast, Earth is abundant and again consciousness calls us to Oneness.

Ann Oswald Laird

Sedona, Arizona

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how he is to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation shall continue to live,” Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor and theologian, was executed in 1945 in a Nazi concentration camp, owing to his compassion and solidarity for the Jewish people and prisoners of war.  Bonhoeffer might suggest, to come to know God is through the experiences of life that lead us out of self gratification and toward gratification of humanity as a whole. One could then say, that for some, the spiritual journey has proven to transform not only the individual but also more profoundly their community and future generations. If one were to look for an example of an individual life that exemplifies a profound spiritual journey one might acknowledge Bonhoeffer.

Like Bonhoeffer, I say devote yourself to your spiritual path despite your reservations, your fears and conflicts with others and do so with the knowingness that Earth and her inhabitants will be an enlightened place for it.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Very inspiring!
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Very inspiring!

An Act of Being Pious

I cannot remember when I first knew that I was not alone. Growing up as a middle child of five with my Mom, Dad, Nana and Grandfather there was little time to ever really be alone, but I tried. I would ride my bike, climb trees, or just run around the block as fast as I could, so fast and determined to get to a place where I would be alone.

Don’t misinterpret, I love my family and they love me. It was because of our love for each other that I felt safe and compelled to explore the vast neighborhood before me. The ache within pushed me to be alone, to be silent and to do so with any opportunity that presented itself. More so, I knew as a young person that I was not running from something, but to something.

It was this persistent knowingness from within that called me to be alone.  However, in my youth I soon came to discover that to be alone may sometimes come in relations to being with others.  As always when you are a child there are responsibilities and my favorite one was taking out the garbage. In a funny way it was the chore that I really looked forward to.

 Speaking of funny our dad was my rock, my mentor and my comedian. His ability to take a mundane task and turn it into an afternoon production was his gift.  He never did anything halfway.  It was all or nothing.  You could see this expressed in the way he loved my mom.  The way he talked to her, the way he called her Em, and the way he looked at her. When he looked at her it was always as if he was seeing her for the first time.

So you might be asking, how is this all going to come together? My dad had this funny way of doing the garbage and I do mean “doing.” For him it was a ritual, a project, and more so a family production.  Now mind you this was before recycling.  For him assembling the trash began with tearing the cereal boxes into tiny little pieces, then moved to sorting glass jars from aluminium cans, and ended with folding newspapers with the skill of a paper carrier. And doing it all so he could gently place it all back into one bag.  It was an art and my dad was the artist.

So picture this, it’s Sunday afternoon and my dad is heading toward the kitchen. You begin to hear the kitchen closet squeak as he gently opens the door. The sound ripples throughout our home to cue my family to take their places.  My three brothers bee line to the front door, my sister heads for her bedroom, and my mom picks up the phone to call one of her many friends.  While I stand in the front hallway as if I am a crossing guard making sure everyone safely makes it to their destinations.

The constant background noises of a family of 8 is nearly quiet except for the last slamming of the doors and my mom’s melodramatic whispers, “oh, really, oh no, she did, no way.” It was as if the home itself took a sigh of relief then my dad turns to me and gives a big smile.  I smile back intrigued and fixated, as if we are sharing in on a secret and the secret is that we are alone, just me and my dad, connected and in the moment.

Thomas Merton says it brilliantly, “His presence is present in my own presence. If I Am , then He is. And in knowing that I Am, if I penetrate to the depths of my own existence and my own present reality, the indefinable “am” that is center I pass into the infinite “I AM” which is the very name of the Almighty.” It is in this I AM Presence that my dad and I connect to the infinite, the universe.

For me, my dad was at home in the universe. He was connected to the universe and experienced total universality of all things. He had a personal relationship with his tasks and his experiences. For him taking out the garbage was an opportunity to be fully present, to be a witness. It was as if he was so present to the process that it was here that he was fully connected to his spiritual practice. My dad was mindful to his connection to nature, all creatures, humanity, and the spirit of God. His Sacred Exchange was the reality that our spirit extends beyond our immediate boundaries. Our influence is vast and universal. In some way my dad knew that the act of being present is purposeful. His commitment was a pious act.

Devoted to his task, I watched as my dad began the tearing, shredding, tinkering, sorting, crumbling and smashing as he would then carefully place each piece in its appropriate place. Upon completion he would smile once again and hand me the bag as he would turn and walk away. I would be standing alone holding the bag honored to once again take it out to the curb.

********************************************************************************************

Piety is the bridge between the natural and spiritual world. It is through devotion to nature, family, and community that one seeks and finds solitude. It is in the nurturing and tending to the relationship with our connection to All that we find happiness and contentment.

Philip Boeman Eastburn 1915-1993

Flip and Em heading to Niagara Falls on their honeymoon
Flip and Em heading to Niagara Falls on their honeymoon

A Journey to Motherhood

The greatest hunger for an individual is not satisfied by food, nor is it fulfilled by acquiring money, success or even the love of another person. The greatest hunger for an individual is insatiable and is in direct relation to the presence of something far greater than self. Let’s just say that to engage in the presence of something far greater than self requires only one commandment: Be still.

However, many of us have forgotten how to be still and the reasons are plain to see. Yet to be still is the key that unlocks the hidden dimensions of infinite possibilities. The inability for us to be still is in direct relations to the tension that exists between our loneliness and our solitude. To be still is the bond that transforms us from loneliness to solitude.  It is the bond that quiets the Self, to hear the still voice within and unveils our connection to Source.

Thomas Merton says, “Actually what it comes down to is that I shall certainly have solitude but only by a miracle and not at all by my own contriving. Where? Here or there makes no difference. Somewhere, nowhere, beyond all “where.” Therefore, let’s suggest that through our spiritual practice of stillness we come to know what it means to heal and move through adversity, to reveal our Self in revelation, the mystery of something far greater than self.

Profoundly my road to motherhood was an opportunity to move through adversity and reveal my Self in revelation to the mystery. For many, the ability to mother is as easy as blending together flour, two eggs, a little shortening, add some cream, and voila, a bun in the oven. On the other hand, I was presented with a ten-year journey of obstacles, disappointments and challenges that cultivated in me a desire to know my strengths and my weaknesses. Let’s just say that my journey to motherhood was an opportunity to step out of what it means to be challenged and to cultivate my connection with the still voice within. You know the one that gently guides us, “Come over here. Come over here. Come over here”. ‘

Now ponder for a moment and ask yourselves, where is my still voice and am I listening?

Lao Tzo said it brilliantly, “Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises itself?” He is asking us to take the time to cultivate a peace within so that we can allow the inspiration or the emotion to move through us. It is if to say, let the energy move through you and not be you.

What would it be like to let go of your limitations and trust that you are not alone? It is as if someone has your back and they are holding the state of pure potentiality and possibilities for you. You are guided with information or experiences to move you closer to your heart’s desire. All it ask’s of you is to let go of the stories, the chatter and the fear that blocks your ability to receive. To be still at times is in direct relation with the tension that exists between what our mind is telling us to do and what our heart is asking us. It is in this tension that we struggle. It is here that sometimes we find ourselves standing at a crossroad.

Which path do we walk upon? My paths were many and rightly so. No one would have thought different of me if I chose the path of suffering by creating a story, living in denial and avoidance. In fact, I think many would have preferred that choice. It was the path that was most traveled. However, I chose to hear the still voice within and to move out of my comfort zone, to step on to new terrain and walk the path overgrown.

Merton reflects to God, “You have called me into this silence to be grateful for what silence I have and to use it by desiring more”.

Like Merton I desired more. I desired motherhood. Throughout this journey Source was preparing me to be a leader and to do so without a play book. I was a pioneer who was traversing new territories without a map and seeking higher truths without Scripture to follow. I was in union with a force so real and so intimate that I never doubted my pursuit of motherhood. I was called to move beyond the norm, to trail new paths and to do so with only the still voice of unwavering knowledge.

You know what I mean, the still voice that calls us to move beyond our fears, our physical, emotional and mental pain. The voice within that says go there, it’s ok, you are loved, keep trying, you know you can….It was as if I became a warrior with a desire so compelling. So compelling that I chose to trust, to let go, to move beyond the appearance of obstacles and to go the distance. The voice that reassured me that I was not alone, resourceful and on the right path.

Now I say to you with change there is always resistance and you might ask, what if the resistance gets the best of me? I say what if it doesn’t? What if you are guided from within?  And from within you are experiencing life in a more magical way, a life with miracles. I say, desire more, be more, lead without knowing and trust the process. In doing so, you will hear the still voice within that is moving you forward. Your heart’s desires will unfold and you will transcend the density and live the life you were born to live. You will meet your challenges resourced and you will move beyond adversity. You will be in union with Source guided by the still voice within to manifest your heart’s true desires.  On Easter Sunday April 19, 1992 I was blessed by the stars with the birth of our son Frank. Honored by his presence and his persistent calling through Source to be born I am a mother.

I dedicate this page to my son Frank who has profoundly called me to go within, to let go and to allow opportunities for miracles to be present. I love you. Mom

Frank
Mom and Frank

********************************************************************************************

Walk the Path Overgrown

What if I told you that the written word has always been my passion? What if I told you that nature has always been my partner in releasing stress, awakening my creativity and bringing clarity to life’s situations? I know you know what I mean. The way you curl up with a good book on your day off or maybe going for a long walk in the woods to clear your mind, or better yet enjoying a good book as you rub your toes on a warm sandy beach. I am sure we both can agree that there is something so comforting for the soul in the written word and a walk in the woods.

Blessed on Christmas morning 2014 my daughter Kassie gifted me a compass that without her knowing has brought clarity and purpose to my quest to know my true self. She engraved a compass “Walk the Path Overgrown.” She further engraved a quote by Dr. Seuss,

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.”

Walk the Path Overgrowncompass open
Pondering on her gift of love I have felt a calling to share stories of my Spiritual Journey with you.

I welcome you to join me and together we can walk the path overgrown.

I dedicate this page to my daughter Kassandra Laird as we together are finding our way. I love you, mom

Kassie
Kassie

Awakening

I do my best to be open, to be active, to reflect, and to listen. I seek the healing qualities of Light; finding comfort in the stillness, the void, and the realm of Pure Potentiality. It is in the absence of “matter” and chaos I hear the voice of God. I challenge myself to grow beyond my adversities and to emerge anew ascending to the call of God. I believe that it is in my surrendering to the Light that the true mystery of God is unfolded.

I am called to Light through meditation, prayer and reflection. Drawing from ancestral traditions, I seek comfort in the stillness. I am guided by an inner ache that springs forth wisdom, creativity, and my voice. I am drawn to the Light to overcome fear, adversity, and stagnation. It is in the Light that I am called to speak, to write, to teach and to heal.

Seek the healing qualities of light, value the warmth, the comfort, the insight and the vastness of human consciousness. Seek within community the revelation of God for the presence of God resides within All of humanity. Look to Self as if you are part of a whole. Act in unity and solidarity. You are the Word. You are the Light and Love of Divine potentiality expressed through Joy.

Blessed with freewill to love unconditionally, You are an expression of Divine Will. You are compassion, hope, and forgiveness designed to awaken relationships to One’s Higher Self and One’s potentiality. You are a portal to access Divine information and thereby releasing blocks and emotional patterns that no longer serve.

The Universal Consciousness is awakening with a joyous triumphant embrace. For the time has come to reconnect with Source. It is here.  It is Now. The time has come to fulfill your Divine Contract. Awaken Archangel Awaken and rejoice for it is so. You do know who you are., Divine, I AM Presence. Trust that it is so.

The Concept of Emptiness

There are concepts in the western philosophy that are unable to define those found in eastern thought.  Buddhist philosophy covers a large spectrum some of which are metaphysics, epistemology and ontology.  One must be aware that conventional western thought is ill-equipped to address certain, perhaps numerous Buddhist concepts.  One of those concepts is emptiness.  The Buddhist understanding of emptiness is unprecedented in western philosophy.  This is not to say that the western is inferior to that of the east, rather it claims that traditional western thinking is ill-equipped to understand the true nature of this concept.  There is no fault in being ill-equipped since the problem rests in one’s nature of thought.  The west has cultivated a formula of evaluation that is contrary to many eastern ideas. Perhaps this same argument is applied to the east.  Rightfully so, the east may not understand and/or translate western thought appropriately.

This essay is not an attempt to compare or contrast eastern and western thought.  However, it is important to understand that the basic tenets of philosophy between these distinct schools conflict with each other.  The use of western themes is used to illustrate the differences.  Furthermore, historically the description of eastern concepts has been proven to be a difficult endeavor worthy of extensive research.  This essay is an attempt to clearly communicate the understanding of “emptiness” in its appropriate context.

The traditional western thinker attempts to eliminate the dichotomy of cause and effect in exchange for an a priori justification of causality.  On the other hand, Madhyamika philosophy is not concerned with finding an objective, value-free truth, like its counterpart, regarding the causal relationship.  Its main concern is finding a pragmatic sense of purpose in the relationship between cause and effect.  The debates of whether or not an object is real differ in eastern and western philosophy.  Many westerners rely on the concept of platonic forms understanding that these ideas or forms are real, they exist.  Madhyamika philosophy states that things are not in reality produced, however, they do serve as objects that are readily perceived in our everyday experience.  This is to say that although one perceives an object, say a chair, it truly does not exist.  Rather the chair is merely a sum of reducible parts that only exists in the conventional world.  Furthermore, the concept of chair as a form does not truly exist.  This idea is in direct opposite to the western understanding.  Although some westerners may agree that the chair as a whole does not truly exist since it will someday deteriorate, they do maintain that the intellectual or conceptual form exists.  The thought that the chair really exists is merely an illusion, this concept with become clearer throughout the essay.

In order to understand emptiness it is essential that one understands dependent origination.  Dependent origination is presented as a universally valid pragmatic interpretation of causality.  Everything is subject to the concept of cause and effect.  This model has both a philosophical and soteriological understanding.  Philosophically speaking where there is a cause, there must be an effect.  And where there is an effect, there must be a cause.  The model of cause and effect truly has no meaning outside of each other.

In a soteriological understanding cause and effect teaches one about the true nature of things.  The understanding of the concept of interdependence as illustrated in the concept of cause and effect will bring one closer to the true nature of reality.  In Buddhist terms, when one realizes the true nature of things, including one’s own self, the illusion of the world will be dispelled.  Penetrating the illusion is liberating and core to the Buddhist tradition.  The penetration of illusion eliminates suffering, which is done by following the Four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha.  To clarify this concept it is important to understand the relationship between illusion, let’s use the term ignorance instead, and cause and effect/condition.

Buddhist thought identifies two significant principles: First, that as conscious human beings, none desire suffering and secondly, suffering originates from its causes and conditions.  Furthermore, Buddhism asserts that the root cause for ones pain and suffering is ignorance.  Pain and suffering do not exist independently; rather they are merely products of causes and conditions.  The ignorance of the nature of suffering becomes the catalyst for continuous pain and suffering through one’s life.

The continuous chain of cause and effect merely gives an illusion that things are real.  If one looks closely, it will become evident that object/things are comprised of a series of causes and conditions.  Returning to the chair as an example, the chair is merely an illusion comprised of countless causes and conditions.  However, the chair still has value serving a purpose in the conventional world.

Like the example of the chair, all objects in the external or conventional world appear to us as independent, self-sufficient entities.  However, if one looks closer they will discover that they are purely a spiraling collection of causes and conditions.  The question still stand, what does this mean?

This means that all objects, things and/or entities to include the human person are empty of intrinsic nature.  Nothing is absent of causes and conditions.  To say that an object exists, that object would have to be static.  However, we know this not to be true.  The human body for example is continuously changing, the blood moving through our veins, the movement of our muscles and/or the constant division of cells. Emptiness is the reality that objects as they are perceived are merely illusions.  Although the profound insight that both a material object and the self are empty of intrinsic nature, it is the realization of the absence of self nature that truly liberates an individual.  Realizing that one is empty of intrinsic nature is not an intellectual function, it is experiential.  As a result, the true concept of emptiness is truly ineffable.   However, words have been used to try to communicate, in a philosophical sense, an understanding of emptiness.  Ultimately, emptiness is a conventional designation.  It is simply an ordinary word used to accomplish a specific purpose.  Emptiness as a convention is also empty because of it own definition.

The dangers of the term emptiness rest in the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the word.  Often in the west it has been associated with annihilation and nihilism.  Emptiness is misrepresented in these two definitions.  The root of this problem relates back to what was discussed earlier.  The paradigm for what is real, ultimate or true is very different in the east than the west.  Because of the cultural divide it is more likely that these errors were not committed out of malice, but out of ignorance.

The realization of emptiness is a profound and liberating experience in Buddhism.  To realize emptiness is to realize the ultimate nature of all things.  This experience is called enlightenment.  As mentioned, the understanding of emptiness is not an intellectual function; it is an experiential and/or spiritual function.  The Buddha was enlightened after years of meditation and spiritual practice.  The Buddha cultivated and developed wisdom according to the Four Noble Truths.  Through his persistent investigation into the nature of the reality of things as they are, the Buddha discovered the secret of emptiness.  Once one is enlightened there is no more illusion.  The concept of emptiness is a medicine for a specific ailment, the disease of clinging.  Cling simply relates to the attachment to the illusion that things are real, that they have intrinsic nature and are capable of supplying happiness.  Unfortunately, this is not true because clinging only results in suffering.  Emptiness is the cure that allows one to discover the cause of the problem.

Accordingly those who have attained enlightenment are the happiest beings in the world.  They are free from complexes and obsessions that torment others.  The one who is enlightened is in the pure service of others since there is no thought of the self.  The Buddha ministered for forty-five years after he was enlightened.  He taught others the way toward enlightenment.  He taught the emptiness of all things therefore capable of penetrating and experiencing the true nature of all entities.  Conversely, how does one operate in the world after experiencing such a profound reality that nothing has intrinsic nature?

One can only speculate what the Buddha experience each day after realizing emptiness.  Certainly, it is apparent that his thoughts were clear and concise.  He was able to articulate his experience into a conventional designation as one looks to the numerous sutras written.  Historically it is obvious that the Buddha fully participated in the convention world, but was he also somewhere else?  Could he transcend dimensions? Could he see the atomic structure of all animate an inanimate entities?  Where does one begin to answer these types of questions?  In short, the Buddha was the greatest quantum physicist able to see the nature of all things.

Works Cited

 Gethin, Rupert.  The Foundations of Buddhism.  Oxford Univ. Press:  Oxford, 1998.

Huntington, C.W.  The Emptiness of Emptiness:  An Introduction to Early Indian 

Madhyamika.  Hawaii Press: Honolulu, 1989.

Rahula, Walpola.  What the Buddha Taught.  Grove Press:  New York, 1959.

Authoritative Leadership

To be an effective leader in pastoral ministry one’s disciplines should develop from within. Consequently, as a pastoral leader in ministry it is important to understand that individuals can positively and or negatively effect how one responds to the environment, the workplace, associates and to one’s self.  Therefore, in order to understand what it takes to be a minister in today’s world one should develop their understanding of many insights in order to be effective.  In doing so one might encounter a more holistic approach to what it means to be an effective leader, an authority in ministry.  The Greek root of the word authority is translated as “the ability to enable one to grow.”  Therefore, one ought to consider that a holistic approach as an authority in ministry leadership results in empowerment for all, creating independence, fostering creativity, unifying the commitment to reach goals and utilizing the knowledge and experience of the group.

This paper is no more than an insight into essential interests that a pastoral leader seeking a holistic approach to leadership with the intent to provide growth for his/her members as opposed to controlling and dominating them in today’s globalizing world.  First, due to the paradigm shift from human resource development to principle-centered leadership the way in which we approach the concept of leadership needs to be addressed.  The human resource development paradigm was formulated on competition and control.  This set the groundwork for a hierarchical structure that permeated all facets of society.  Leaders were the dominant roles in society.

In ministry the dominant players were the church authority, the Pope, cardinals, bishops, and priests.  Further, this hierarchy resulted in the dominance over the uneducated, the poor, women and children within the church.  The new paradigm, principle-centered leadership, fosters mutual shaping and symbiotic relationship between leaders and followers.  It encourages shared responsibilities and an exchange of goals and values of all parties.  Further, the integrity of the group extends beyond the leader through its members and the effects on society.  For the church this perspective opens the door for the laity and more so for women of the church to be educated, recognized and involved in the goals of the church.  The awareness of this paradigm shift is essential for all leaders in ministry to be effective in their work.  This enables them to move beyond the Baltimore Catechism of ministry to embrace the works of Vatican II and contemporary theology.

Second, for leaders to be effective they must first be a servant to those they wish to lead.  Robert K. Greenleaf author of Servant Leadership, states that “The servant-leader is servant first” (27).  This idea is based on the premise that the leader wants to serve first.  The key relationship here is between the leader and the people focusing on the “peoples highest priority needs.”  Greenleaf portrays the servant leader as someone who leads within his/her own community but leads with the understanding of how their leadership influences all of humanity.

Servant leadership moves away from command and control toward individual participation from the leader.  Leaders are held by an ethical and social responsibility to the community.  It is within the community that values are shared by short and long-term goals and visions.  Servant leadership is empowering for all involved.  Responsibilities are shared due to the participation of the leader.  It is easy to say then that a servant leader is effective because it is through their actions that they lead.  It is by their word that they are seen.  They are the Gospel that speaks to the community and by doing so their commitment to service of others extends globally.

For leaders in ministry it is not difficult to look to the life of Jesus as an example of true servant leadership.  The Gospels eloquently express the true meaning of servant leadership.  For example, the Gospels share stories of Jesus washing the feet of the apostles, breaking bread, healing the sick and respecting the poor.  Jesus’ life was a ministry of servant leadership.  As we are called to ministry it is imperative that we indulge in discipleship.  Discipleship engages an individual to imitate the practices of Jesus.  As one is called to discipleship he/she engages within the world as leaders who serve first and therefore lead righteously both ethically and morally.  Furthermore, as servants we are always in the process of change and renewal and open to that change.  Greenleaf eloquently states, “If one is servant, either leader or follower, one is always searching, listening, expecting that a better wheel for these times is in the making” (23).

Third, for leaders in ministry to be effective they must have an awareness and/or vision.  A vision provides direction and purpose that is imperative to identify with.  In creating a vision the vision is clarified by the mission statement.  A mission statement is actively engaging the leader to be contributive toward society in a specific way.  It propels an individual into making a statement about what one’s goals, purpose and principles are.  A mission statement speaks of intent, commitment and the end results desired.

Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People suggests that in organizations “everyone should participate” and “to be effective, that statement (mission statement) has to come from the bowels of the organization” (139).  According to Covey this fosters teamwork and honest relations between employees and management.  In other words for leaders in ministry a mission statement should engage the people within the community.  This would address the dis-ease of the community or unifying point.  Without this type of focus ministers continue to treat symptoms and never achieve effective steps in ministry.  Without a mission statement that yields the wisdom of the community a minister can lose sight of his/her vision and begin to care for individuals without direction and purpose.

Creating a mission statement is important.  It creates a unity with the individual and/or the group.  It confirms the vision, the purpose, the commitment, the reason and the solution.  A mission statement reminds the participants of what they are trying to achieve.  Establishing the grounds to proceed enables the participants to remain on task to success.

Fourth, for leaders in ministry to be effective they must be able to listen.  Covey calls the art of listening “principles of empathic communication.”  Covey encourages his readers to listen to understand and not to just reply.  Empathetic listening enables the listener to “fully, deeply, understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually” (240).  For Covey listening involves your ears but more so it involves your eyes and your heart.  Listening is engaging all five senses to be fully engaged with the speaker.  In ministry empathic communication is essential to be effective.  This form of communication strengthens the bond and creates an atmosphere of trust and honesty.

For leaders to be effective in ministry they must be able to effectively listen.  This key element is essential in the art of communicating with others.  First it is important that people feel like they are being heard.  That someone is paying attention to them builds trust and commitment. Second listening is a skill that an individual can improve on. Thirdly, it is important that personal emotions and biases do not get in the way of listening effectively.  One ought to question if listening is so important in the way humans communicate why are we not trained to listen effectively and with compassion for the speaker?

Just imagine if leadership within the Church practiced empathetic listening from the community.  Can you visualize the importance this would be for women, minorities and the environment?  You can even extend that to undeveloped countries, natural resources, the use of contraception and pluralistic viewpoints.  The list does not stop there.  The art of empathetic listening breaks the barrier a hierarchical structured society.  It tears down the walls of ignorance and prejudice to open the mind and the heart of the listener to be humbled.  It is there that humans can effectively relate and change the hierarchical structure to a co-determination mind shift.

This leads us to the fifth and last characteristic of an effective leader in ministry, the collaborative process.  The most effective way to create an energizing resource of individuals is to engage them in the collaborative process.  The collaborative process is designed to engage each participant equally.   It creates an environment that is open, friendly, organized and creative.  The collaborative process fosters communication, team-building, creativity, and empowerment for all participants.  The process encourages respect for each person.  In other words, each individual has the opportunity to speak to the group without being interrupted.  This gives everyone an avenue to get their ideas across, to be able to effect changes and/or to voice their opinion on policies that should remain in place.

In ministry the relationship is much different from the traditional relationship where one is more influential than the other.  In other words, in a traditional group setting there is a leader to the group who dominates over the participants.  Once this relationship is dissolved the leader is seen as a facilitator and equal to the individual or the group.  The collaborative process creates intimacy and a level of trust between all individuals.  This allows for those who genuinely do not speak to express genuine ideas and concerns which in many cases are very productive to the resolution.

Furthermore, one not ought to question the importance of a leader to foster a holistic approach to leadership in ministry.  Here the importance resides in the principle authoritative relationship between the leader and the followers.  This relationship is then grounded “in the ability to enable someone to grow.”  Therefore, the disciplines of the leader encourage the group to create, to be empowered, to engage in dialogue, to commit and to share equally experiences and knowledge.

As Above So Below

 “In the presence of the night, I call out.  “God where are you?”  Feeling abandoned in the darkness and the stillness of the open sky, I am alone.  Unable to move out of my despair I tremble in the night. Unable to raise my head for fear of having to be aware, to change, to let go, or to be still, I ignore the brilliant star that envelops me.

I have longed for true satisfaction through materialistic and self-ego driven desires.  I have journeyed the path of self-preservation looking through the eyes of me, myself, and I and I  have judged those who have fallen to sin, let go of relationships, and I have done all of this with the refusal to turn the other cheek.  I have laughed at the meek, the simple one’s, the peacemakers, the pushovers, and the do-gooders.  I have taken the viewpoint that I am right and that there is no gray.  I have looked no further than my own eyes could see or listened beyond what my own ears could hear.  I have sipped of the sweet vine and tasted the cracked wheat, for pleasures of the flesh.  I have felt the thirst and hunger of a life that was void of spiritual awareness, humility, and service to others.

For, I have fallen to temptations along the way.   I challenged my faith, my parents, my friends, and my relationships.  I was seeking to fill the ache that I carried so deep within.  I unknowingly yearned to be in relationship with God.

Today, I am very much like the one’s that I use to make fun of.  I am the meek, the peacemaker, the do-gooder, and the pushover.  For me to come to know the sacred is experienced through the transformation of an individual through their commitment and reverence to their spiritual journey.  The spiritual journey is to live according to the belief that we are not only alive but we are consciously aware of, in touch with, and motivated by a presence of something far greater than us.

 For some the journey of faith has proven to transform not only the individual but also more profoundly their community and future generations. Dietrich Bonhoeffer says it best, “The ultimate question for a responsible man to ask is not how he is to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation shall continue to live”

Ann Oswald Laird

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑